Saturday, May 25, 2019
Sermon Summary (5/19/19) “Peter’s Restoration” (John 21:1-19)
We’re continuing our Belief and Hope series. Today Peter. Peter who had denied Jesus three times, who wept bitterly in shame when so doing; Peter who believed he was not worthy, and who had decided to return to his old ways as a fisherman. Peter who had lost hope. Jesus meets him where he finds him and restores him and commissions him to become one of the great leaders of the church
Peter was in a dark place. It happens. It happened to John of the Cross in the 16th Century, to M. Teresa in the last. We become disconnected from God. Our relationship severed. We become like Peter. We say, “I’m going fishing.”
That’s the human condition. That’s the story of the Old Testament. That’s the remedy of the New Testament. Jesus calls us back. It is a story for us.
Remember, Peter has best intentions, “Even though I must die with you, I will never deny you.” But Jesus knows us. “Before the cock crows, you will deny my three times.”
At some point, Peter leaves Jerusalem. There are seven disciples at the Sea of Galilee some weeks after Easter. Peter says, “I am going fishing.” Essentially, I am returning to my old life. Jesus may never show up again! They catch nothing. Their life will be empty. But, but, Jesus is on the seashore. “Put your nets down on the right side of the boat.” There nets are filled, 153 kinds of fish (maybe the known number of species) and their nets do not tear (maybe their commission that all the world is their parish and that not one nation will be lost).
John says (getting one step ahead of Peter), “It is the Lord.” Peter, who was bare chested, puts on his clothes and jumps in the water to see Jesus. “Oh, if he would just forgive me!” After breakfast, Jesus, three times, asks “Peter, do you love me?” Three times, Peter responds, “Yes Lord, you know I love you.” Jesus says, “Feed my sheep.”
This is a story of the restoration of hope and of commissioning. For us. Like John, we need to connect with Jesus, “It is the Lord.” Two, we need to put Jesus in charge of our daily activities, “Put your nets down on the right side of the boat.” Three, we need to dine with him, “Come and have breakfast.” Four, we need to listen to him, “Feed my sheep.” And lastly, we need to respond, “Follow me.” If the greatest commandment is to “love your neighbor as yourself,” we ought to love someone in the name of Christ each and every day. “Feed my sheep.”
It begins with our belief that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. It continues with our renewal of hope: That the worst thing is never the last thing, and that Easter changes everything. It is reinforced with our understanding that Jesus “has the words to eternal life.” (John 6:68-69) So may it be with all of us. Amen.
Thursday, May 16, 2019
Sermon Summary (4/28/19) “Thomas: From Doubt to Hope” (John 20:19-31)
We’re in the midst of a sermon series, “Belief and Hope.” The two main reasons people leave the church are a loss in belief in God and in confronting evil such that they have lost hope. The resurrection is the source of our belief and of our hope.
Last week we said that to restore our belief and to renew our hope, we should make the resurrection part of our resume: Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life,” and “Because I live, you shall live also.” Second, to take Jesus to heart: internalize his stories, make them real for your life today. What if our morning prayer was to ask how we could proactively live out the Golden Rule today? And third, make faith define our meaning and purpose. That is what we will talk of today.
Here’s where we’re going: If we will make our goals centered around our faith, we will live a joyful life. If our goal is a joyful life, we will probably miss the joy and the life. CS Lewis said, “Aim at heaven and you’ll get the earth thrown in; aim at earth and you’ll get neither.”
(This past week we had a tragedy in San Diego when a 19 year old professed Christian walked into a Synagogue and shot worshipers. How could he be so misguided? He had been told in his church that the Jews killed Jesus and he made theology the center of his faith, his goal, rather than Jesus. Can you imagine Jesus in a thousand eternities acting like that? Jesus is the center of our faith. Our goal, the center of our belief system matters.)
In John’s story, Jesus appears to the disciples in the Upper Room at evening on Easter. To give Thomas a break, it wasn’t until Jesus showed the other disciples his hands and his side that they believed in him! Then they rejoiced. Resurrection became the thing that gave them meaning and purpose from that point on. They believed!
Thomas reasonable doubted. There is honest doubt and dishonest doubt. When we honestly doubt, we are open to new information, new facts. Examination of our doubts can lead to even greater understanding. When Thomas saw Jesus’ hands and side, he proclaimed, “My Lord and my God.” Not just “My Lord” but “My Lord and my God.” This is the greatest statement of the Christ’s divinity in the Bible!
John concludes the story with “These stories have been told so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that in so believing, you may have life in his name.” (John 20:31)
The goal is not just believing, but “life,” “eternal life.” Heaven. “Aim at heaven and you’ll get earth thrown in; aim at earth and you’ll get neither.” So may the goal of all of us be life! Amen.